To Live Another Day
Episode Five: A Vivid Dreamscape
By the time Filia was done with dinner, Amelia and Zelgadis had already left the restaurant. It wasn't that Filia's appetite was anywhere near Lina's, she simply started her meal when Amelia and Zelgadis were almost done and was distracted by it long enough to miss their departure. With a full stomach, Filia noticed that it was already dark and she was certainly exhausted. Her matchmaking plans would just have to wait for another day. Hopefully whatever Xellos was planning would wait for many, many days, because she would seriously need a long time to recover from today.
Although they had paused their insults that pretended to be flirts, (or was it flirts that pretended to be insults?) The routine was resumed when Filia requested the bill and Zangulus handed it over to Xellos. The golden dragon had shrugged and held a tiny victory in watching him pay, though she was the one to provide a tip for Zangulus, because she knew Xellos wouldn't.
After leaving the restaurant, the silly insults did not go on, instead the pair walked in silence to the hotel, with Xellos occasionally glancing here and there as if studying the movement around him. In front of the hotel, Filia paused and asked the question that was floating on her mind. Given her already bad position, what could it hurt? "Does it feel bad?"
The question which was rather lacking in context and information, took Xellos by surprise and was addressed with nothing but a slight raise of the eyebrow.
"The atmosphere here, does it hurt you?" Filia once again proclaimed her curiosity. "I mean," she elaborated, "it's so full of love and happy thoughts, it must be unpleasant to you, since you're a monster."
"It is," Xellos admitted the obvious as it was of no use to deny it. "But I'm a very strong monster, you said that yourself." He alluded to something that was spoken during Filia's distressful time. He knew she didn't want to remember that, so he made a mental note to hint at it whenever he could. He would, however, keep the embarrassing secret between them, for the time being at least.
Filia only looked away as a response. She didn't know why she asked that question, the answer was obvious and it didn't matter anyway. Without another word she began to walk towards the stairs.
"Are all dragons rude enough to walk away in the middle of a conversation?" Xellos tried to get the insults rolling again, it was fun.
Filia gave him no response save for a glare, but decided that she wouldn't humor him. Xellos wanted to argue and though she would normally answer, she was simply too tired at the moment. She kept making her way up the stairs ignoring Xellos as he followed after her.
When she got to the girls' room, Filia retrieved her copy of the key from her pocket and made her way in. On one of the four beds, it was beyond her why so many beds per room were needed, there was a box with a note attached to it. Filia curiously picked it up and read it. 'Hey Filia! After Gourry and I got kicked out of the buffet's kitchen, I said I would sue them for false advertisement because it was supposed to be all you can eat. They offered me store credit if I didn't and since I don't know any lawyers anyway, I took it.' That would explain the pile of bags and boxes in the corner. 'This one is for you! Enjoy, Lina.' Filia thought it was sweet of Lina to have gotten her a gift, until she reached the foot of the note. 'PS: You can show your gratitude by taking me out to dinner sometime.'
Filia sighed, regardless of what Lina got her; it couldn't have been more expensive than taking her out to dinner would be. Even so, Filia tried to look on the bright side, it was the thought that counted and she really needed some optimism. She opened the box to find a cute little dress with yellow sunflowers on pale blue fabric and a pair of matching flip-flops. It was sleeveless and about knee length, going will with the resort's general atmosphere, though it wouldn't provide enough space under the skirt to hide her mace. She couldn't imagine Lina buying it, some random shop keeping probably forced it on her somehow. It must have been a dangerously fierce shop keeper, or maybe Lina decided to try to look extra cute and didn't want to make the effort alone. Maybe it was a good sign, maybe Gourry would compliment her and things would roll from there, but Filia knew she was getting ahead of herself.
Ignoring Xellos' still looming presence silently behind her, Filia noticed that there was another note on her bed. That second note was from Amelia, she must have come into the room and left again when Filia and Xellos were at the restaurant. She read the note with curiosity, wondering in the back of her mind if Amelia had seen her little table breaking display at the restaurant. 'Dear Miss Filia, I hope you are enjoying your time at this resort. Lina told me she purchased a dress for you, she got me one as well and suggested that we should all wear them tonight to go see the fireworks display from the central plaza. I think it's a wonderful idea and hope you'll join us. Also, we should all enjoy the resort together tomorrow, but we can talk about that later. Best wishes, Amelia.'
Relieved that the note didn't mention anything about the restaurant incident, Filia took another look at the dress. She was tired and not in the mood to stay out waiting for fireworks, yet she didn't want to disappoint her friends. She concluded that being tired wasn't a good enough reason to miss out on the fun; there would be plenty of time to sleep later. Besides, just because she was in the mood to hide under warm covers and sleep away her sorrows it didn't mean that she should. That was probably what Xellos wanted her to do and she wouldn't give him that.
She would go out and have fun, being filled with all kinds of positive emotions, especially the kind that bothered him most, whichever those were. She honestly didn't understand the source of her curiosity, but she decided that she had no reason to try to understand Xellos. He was a monster; he was evil, end of story. The notion didn't feel completely right, but she couldn't quite place why. Letting the matter drop in her mind, she turned to face Xellos with the dress in her hands. "Leave, I'm changing."
He didn't move and he didn't say anything. Filia knew this was Xellos' little revenge for being ignored earlier.
Crossing her arms Filia stated a valid, although from her perspective nonsensical, point. "If you want me to consider the thought of kissing you to be remotely passable, let me say that you're not making any progress by being a pest."
Xellos faded into nothingness without a word. There was something unnerving about how he silently agreed to leave her alone with relative ease, but Filia couldn't put her finger on it.
Filia changed as quickly as possible, fearing that Xellos would teleport back into the room at any random moment. Once she was wearing her new dress, she exited the room, locking it behind her. Downstairs she found Xellos, leaning casually against the wall at the foot of the steps. She walked past him without a word and he followed her.
The walk to the central plaza was not a long one, the bad news was that they couldn't make it to the plaza because it and the area around it was so terribly crowded. Who knew for how long some of those people had been waiting.
"Miss Filia!" Amelia waved for her attention, cheerfully making her way over to the familiar new arrivals. She was wearing a pink dress with red roses in a similar style to Filia's. Apparently Gourry and Zelgadis also received gifts from Lina in the form of the male attire that dominated the resort, very much like Xellos. They were both wearing shorts, blue for Gourry and gray for Zelgadis, which were not as brightly colored as Xellos' red shorts, but their shirts were certainly just as festive. Gourry had jellyfish pictures all over his shirt blue, while Zelgadis had the classic dark green palm tree patterns on a lighter green background. They were all wearing flip-flops.
Lina looked the most different in her orange and white checkered dress; she must have thought a flower pattern was going too far. She did however have a single white lily on her hair. "Glad you made it," Lina greeted casually, though with a hint of annoyance that was not directed at any of her companions, but rather at the crowd. "Unfortunately, we were too late and all the good spots are taken, as you probably already noticed." A crowd of that size was impossible to miss.
"That doesn't mean we can't still have a good time!" Amelia tried to maintain a cheery atmosphere. Xellos was not fond of her attitude.
The fireworks began, a fact that Lina's group was only aware of judging by the sound of the explosions in the distance and the atmosphere around the central plaza lighting up. They couldn't see the fireworks though, the numerous crowd was packed too tightly in front of them and there was just no way to see them. "What a rip off," Lina muttered as she scanned the area for a way to get a better view. "We might be able to see the fireworks from the top of the hotel, it's a bit further away, but it's close enough and we should have a clear view from up there." Without waiting for any opinions of different suggestions, Lina ran off in direction to the hotel. Gourry automatically followed her and soon the whole group trailed behind.
xoxox xox xoxox
A pleasant breeze was blowing that night, though it was imperceptible from the ground level due to the gathered crowd. From the hotel's roof there were no obstacles in the way. The group approached the railing at the edge of the roof terrace most of them automatically leaning on it luxuriously. Lights of many colors painted the skies in a beautiful display as the fireworks exploded brightly. For a moment they were all focused on the lights and peace reigned supreme among them. Then it ended all too soon.
As if hoping for more, the group stayed silent, looking at the sky, before they realizing that they couldn't coax more fireworks out of thin air with their eyes. They resolved to go back to their rooms, heading down from the roof, men and women parting ways in the hall with a wide exchange of good nights and such well wishes. The resort's activities went on twenty-four seven, but this was only their first day there and after traveling all the way to the resort, a good night's sleep was in order to recover from the trip. Perhaps tomorrow they would stay out late enjoying the festivities.
xoxox xox xoxox
At the girls' room, the three had showered, changed, brushed their teeth and finished all the activities normally done before going to bed. "Where do you think we should go tomorrow?" Amelia inquired, reminding the others of her suggested plans.
Lina answered immediately, "the roller coasters! I spent today at the buffet, then finding something to buy with my store credit so I didn't have time to go on the roller coasters. I think that's something we can all enjoy," she grinned, clearly looking forward to it.
"I didn't really have time to look around either," Amelia admitted. "Unfortunately, the library here isn't as useful as Mr. Xellos made it sound. Mr. Zelgadis and I were not able to find any remotely useful clues towards his cure. At least we got the research out of the way just in case and maybe now that it's done, Mr. Zelgadis will be more open to enjoying the resort."
"Research, huh?" Lina grinned mischievously with the look of one who is about to tease her friends. "I thought you two were on a date."
Amelia blushed, "it wasn't like that, Miss Lina. We're just friends." There was something about the way she said it that hinted she would be more than happy if they were more, but she didn't really feel like discussing it. She could ask Lina about Gourry, but instead decided to bring the quiet Filia into the conversation. Filia had not said a single word for a while and Amelia didn't want her to feel left out. "What about you Miss Filia? Did you have fun today?"
No, she did not have fun today, but Filia couldn't very well say it so bluntly. "Kind of..." Seeing Amelia's somewhat disappointed and inquiring look she added more cheerfully. "I think tomorrow will be better, since we'll all be hanging out together." Which meant that Xellos might give someone else a little of his annoying attention and less to her... Or he could open his big mouth and try to embarrass her in front of everyone.
"You spent the day with Mr. Xellos, right?" Amelia encouraged Filia to elaborate.
"Not by choice!" Filia frowned. "He just kept following me," she crossed her arms and made it clear she didn't really want to talk about him.
"And that's why you destroyed his clothes?" Lina laughed, causing Filia to blush.
"Did Xellos say that?" The embarrassed golden dragon was about to come up with some sort of denial, but realized it might not even be necessary. The piece of knowledge Lina had about the day's events was incomplete and out of context.
"Yeah, he said you attacked him with your dragon claws and his shirt paid the price, but that he was otherwise okay. I ran into him at the store when he was shopping for a replacement," Lina explained.
"Then that outfit he was wearing, it was actually a gift from you too?" Filia realized.
Lina nodded, "yeah, I know Xellos is annoying, but I got something for everyone, so I figured, why not?"
Taking the opportunity to encourage peace and friendship Amelia added, "I think we should take this vacation as an opportunity to become closer friends, all of us, even Mr. Xellos."
Filia huffed, "like that's going to happen."
"C'mon, Miss Filia, you should keep an open mind about Mr. Xellos," Amelia smiled encouragingly.
The comment about keeping an open mind reminded Filia about Xellos' odd request. She still didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish. Letting out a breath, she decided to humor Amelia, "alright, I'll keep an open mind." She was just saying that really, she would have to be on her guard. "I'm very tired now, so if it's okay I'll be going to sleep."
The girls all decided that it was best to go to sleep. After exchanging good nights, they got comfortable on their beds and blew out the candles, letting sleep come.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was still night time when Xellos appeared in the room where Filia, Lina and Amelia still slept. He placed an odd gray cloud shaped candle with swirls of white and black in it on the night stand next to Filia's bed. He would continue his research if this didn't work, but if he could spare himself that, he would.
Xellos then placed some odd masks over Lina and Amelia's faces. The so called masks looked more like paper boats then anything else. He lit the candle, leaving Filia unprotected against its effects then took up the extra bed in the room, which happened to be next to Filia, Amelia was in the opposite corner and Lina snored loudly between the two girls behind the paper that stuck to her face even when she tossed and turned. Xellos closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of the candle, allowing sleep to overtake him.
xoxox xox xoxox
Filia found herself in a strange place. The skies were painted in the color of the sunset and a vast field of flowers spread out far until it faded into white sand with a calm ocean reaching out endlessly in the opposite direction. Filia breathed in the fresh air and stretched out her arms, the scene was absolutely beautiful. She didn't know where she was, but she didn't question it, she only enjoyed it. Had she stopped to think about it for a moment, she would have realized that this was a dream.
Xellos crash landed into Filia's dream several feet away, falling into a flowerbed. She seemed to remain unaware of his presence, entranced by the task of dipping her toes in the ocean. The purple haired monster lifted himself to a sitting position and examined his surroundings in horror. The scent of the candle should allow several people to share a dream and the current dreamscape was definitely Filia's. Xellos had heard that when humans are fond of each other they dream of each other. He knew for a fact that humans also tended to rely on dreams for a way to predict the future and be guided. Dragons were just as stupid as humans in his opinion, if not more, and humans were easy to manipulate. They tended to switch up cause and effect. Liking someone was a common reason to dream about them; therefore a dream about someone had to mean they liked them. Xellos was unsure if his curse could be broken in the dream world, but it was a possible shortcut worth exploring.
xoxox xox xoxox
Meanwhile, in the real world, Lina turned over on her bed facing in Filia's direction. The light of the candle on the night stand woke her and she sleepily opened her eyes not quite all there. She didn't even notice the paper structure attached to her face as she softly blew on the odd candle that she had not noticed being there before. The candle wouldn't go out, so the sleepy Lina waved her hand, sending a small gust of wind at the candle. The candle was not blown out immediately, but it was knocked off the night stand.
The cloud shape shattered upon hitting the floor as if it was made of the most fragile glass. The flame flared then promptly died, letting out an invisible smoke that was trapped in the room to be breathed in only by Filia, Xellos and a certain unseen other. Reacting on automatic, Lina shot a freeze arrow of lesser potency at where the already extinguished flame should have been, then returned to sleep instantly, the consequences of her actions remaining completely unknown to her.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. Yet another set up chapter that also served to introduce the characters' costumes for this story. This is also the first direct hint at the hidden plot of this story which had something to do with that 'certain unseen other' who is there for a good reason that will affect the main crew.